Monday, November 28, 2016

Zechariah's Fear in Luke 1:5-25

This year for Advent we're taking in 4 stories of angel visits and messages they had to share with God's people.

  1. Zechariah Luke 1:5-25
  2. Joseph Matthew 1:18-25
  3. Mary Luke 1:26-38
  4. shepherds Luke 2:18-16
Zechariah's encounter with the angel reveals the power of God. Zechariah was performing a religious duty. Religion looks backward remembering the place where God had come in the past. But God isn't limited to only earlier places where God's been before.

Zechariah had faith. He prayed for his family, for his wife. He prayed in to to someday be a father. But I don't think he expected to meet God's messenger when he went into the heart of the temple. People stood outside praying as he stepped into a sacred space. He was going in to honor the ancient ritual to remember the times when God had come to his people before. And right as he should have been burning incense in this sacred space God's messenger showed up. Right in the middle of a repeated action of devotion the angel Gabriel came with news.
Zechariah, don’t be afraid. God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son, and you will name him John. He will bring you joy and gladness, and many people will be happy because of his birth.  John will be a great man for the Lord. Luke 1:13-15 NCV
Garbriel didn't come by accident. God was on the move. The angel's appearance was terrifying. And the angel spoke to that terror. He had news. Zechariah's family, in particular his son, was going to be part of God's entry into the world.
...even from birth, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  He will help many people of Israel return to the Lord their God.  He will go before the Lord in spirit and power like Elijah. He will make peace between parents and their children and will bring those who are not obeying God back to the right way of thinking, to make a people ready for the coming of the Lord. Luke 1:15-17 NCV
Zechariah's prayers had been heard. But his response wasn't joy. He spoke back to the angel.
“How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” Luke 1:18-20 NRSV
Meeting the Angel left Zechariah speechless. And maybe the promise of Christmas should leave us looking for words too.
Peace and thanks for reading. John

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